New York, NY, March 30, 2012 – In commemoration of Palestinian Land Day and joining the Global Day of Action for the growing Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, New York human rights activists released a theatrical video calling on pension giant TIAA-CREF to divest from corporations that profit from the Israeli occupation. Targeted corporations include Elbit Systems, Veolia, Northrop Grumman, and Caterpillar.
Entitled “TIAA-CREF's Checkpoint Reality Check - Land Day special preview,” the 6 ½-minute video takes a street-theater approach to storytelling to contrast TIAA-CREF’s financial support for US workers in educational and medical institutions with the intricate system of Israeli checkpoints that block Palestinians living under occupation from access to education and medical care.
At the end of the video, the Palestinian medic character invokes the historic role of divestment campaigns: “Just as TIAA-CREF refused to do business as usual with apartheid South Africa, TIAA-CREF should refuse to do business as usual with corporations that are facilitating Israel’s violations of international law and Palestinian human rights.”
The video is part of the national “We Divest” campaign targeting TIAA-CREF, called for by Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) and endorsed by over 50 organizations. The video marks the first collaborative effort among NYC endorsers, including Students for Justice in Palestine groups at both Hunter College and NYU. Members from the Global Justice group at Occupy Wall Street also participated. Campaign partner American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) and JVP also released a Land Day video featuring Palestinian and US students and highlighting the campaign’s growth on college campuses. In Chicago, activists protested at TIAA-CREF offices.
Palestinian Land Day commemorates the six Palestinian citizens of Israel killed by Israeli authorities in 1976 during protests against continued land confiscation. In yesterday’s Land Day protests in the West Bank and Gaza, Israeli forces killed 20-year-old Mahmoud Zaqout in Gaza and injured over 200 protesters in the West Bank.
Marking Land Day, the Global BDS Day of Action saw actions in support of BDS campaigns in over 23 countries. Only days before, UK BDS activists announced a major boycott victory against Veolia, a corporation also targeted by the TIAA-CREF divestment campaign. Local government officials in Hastings UK decided to exclude Veolia, which helped construct and now operates the light rail connecting Jerusalem with illegal settlements, from a public tender. Veolia has lost more than US$13 billion in contracts following BDS campaigns around the world.